Sound: 'So they have a new guitarist, it sounds the same to me.' I said that during the piano-driven opening seconds of 'All For You', the first track on Our Lady Peace's fifth album, Gravity. I felt at ease, safe, knowing that good ol' OLP (Our Lady Peace) had produced another emotionally zany CD filled to the brim with jazzy drums and Mike Turner's jangling guitars.
Needless to say, my security was soon dashed, enter Steve Mazur. The new guitar player of Our Lady Peace cranks the volume up to 11 here, driving the songs with his grooving, heavily distorted guitar, a complete contrast to Mike Turner. The presence of Bob Rock is also immediately felt here - gone are the bells, synth and layered guitars, replaced with straight up rock that feels utterly generic. it's heavy rock, but Our Lady Peace feels caged musically, even the dazzling Jeremy Taggart is locked down, his staggering drum work sheared back or buried under the incessant churning beast of Steve Mazur. It's a little uncomfortable, but it gives Our Lady Peace some muscle, even if they didn't want it. // 8
Lyrics: Raine Maida has completely altered his voice, throwing in down several registers, creating an almost unrecognizable singer. He sings much deeper now, as if to display confidence, but it's easy to see that along with Our Lady Peace's music, their vocals are wary and uneasy with the drastic new direction they've been spurred on.
Lyrically Maida finally tosses any remnants of his cryptic crooning out the window and fully embraces simple rock writing, penning such songs as 'Do You Like It' and 'A Story About A Girl'. He seems almost embarrassed to have written such material, and it is a little embarrassing, honestly, when compared with his lyrical work on Happiness Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch and Spiritual Machines. // 8
Overall Impression: Our Lady Peace tried to go superpop here, employing generic rocker Steve Mazur and producer Bob Rock to streamline their sound. The result is a band that seems off-kilter beneath the pounding sound, all the musicians are struggling, obviously, without Mike Turner to guide them and they try to bury that loss amidst a sonic wall. It's listenable, but if you liked old Our Lady Peace you probably won't enjoy Gravity very much. The highlights include 'Made Of Steel', 'All For You' and 'Do You Like It' as all of the singles just come off as shallow and contrived. // 7